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Jesuit Asia pacific - What can we expect of GC 36?

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October 28, 2015

gc 36REFLECTION - With General Congregation 36 commencing this month with meetings of Electors in their six respective Conferences, there is much curiosity about what a new Superior General will bring to the Society.

It is clear that the first outcome of the Congregation will be the impact of the personality and vision of the new Superior General on the whole Society and her many partners.  A new leader normally brings a fresh expression of our mission, a new way of viewing the invitation of the Gospel to us today, a new focus of unity.  He will attract interest in how the Society sees the world and the Church at this point of history.  We have seen this happen in the case of our three previous generals, Fathers Arrupe, Kolvenbach and Nicolás, each quite different personalities.

The Superior General will be chosen during the plenary assembly of the Congregation in October 2016 to replace Fr Adolfo Nicolás who at his resignation at age 81 will have served as Superior General for over eight years since his election in early 2008. 

What else can we expect from the General Congregation 36?

Since more than 200 electors gather from all corners of the world, matters affecting the whole Society and the way it undertakes its mission today can be treated. 

A General Congregation is the highest governing body in the Society with power to review and update our laws. Some changes are already ripe, others need study.  For example, contemporary means of communication impact on methods of decision making at all levels.  The essential presence of lay companions and the need for consultation with partners have implications for the way Jesuit superiors and leaders of the Society’s initiatives go about their duties. Another area calling for clarification is the role of Conferences of Provincials in governance. Even if Ignatius already expected provincials to share responsibility for the Society’s universal mission, the way international cooperation is organised through the Conferences in various geographic regions is still a work in progress.

In studying the contemporary context of our mission, Electors will be ever so conscious of pressing questions confronting humanity, such as the frequency of conflicts that maim and uproot millions of people, the damage being done to our common home by throwaway, consumerist economies, the heartbreaking inequities among people today.

This is the first Jesuit General Congregation to be held during the pontificate of a Jesuit Pope. While Pope Francis will not extend any special privileges to the Society, we do now have a pontiff who understands Jesuit discernment.  Moreover his prophetic urgings to the Church to follow the path of mercy, to live simply in the joy of the Gospel and to respect God’s gifts will find a welcome hearing in this Congregation.  His appeal on behalf of refugees, vulnerable migrants and people who are in any way unjustly excluded will resonate with the priests and brothers gathered there. We will surely respond to his appeal to look beyond the narrow confines of our homes, communities and nations to where the needs are greater.

We ask all to join us in praying for the guidance of the Spirit on this Congregation as we embark on a full year to discern the call of the Eternal King to the Society and her companions today.


Fr Mark Raper SJ
President, Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific

Please continue to pray for the success of GC 36.  The special prayers we have developed can be found here.

Source: sjapc.net, October 19, 2015

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